For about the first seven years of my life, I lamented and moaned about my parents depriving me of having a Barbie doll. Yes, I am probably one of the few girls who never actually owned one and had to get my Barbie fix whenever I went to play at friends’ houses. It wasn’t until I was 14 that I got my first Barbie as a sort of inside joke and it had on a gold brocade outfit made by my friend. However, the Barbies I grew up with and knew of from Argos catalogues had 80’s t-shirts that said ‘Cool’ on them with Hawaiian print leggings or had hair that ‘magically’ changed colour in the water. Come September at the world famous Christie’s auction house however, Barbie collectors will ooh and aah over an altogether different kind of Barbie. Ietje Raebel will be auctioning her collection of 4000 barbies collected from the early 60’s to the present which will be the biggest private collection ever to be sold at auction.
Amongst her collection are Barbies that I never thought even existed. Roman Holiday Barbie? Sorbonne Barbie? These aren’t Barbies that reflect 80’s love for all things Malibu but rather an accurate depiction the of fashion and social circumstances when they were produced. Dior inspired dresses, Balenciaga cuts, Pucci’s palazzo pyjamas, Bob Mackie’s Cher-inspired costume designs were all modelled by Barbie. Sorbonne Barbie obviously was born out of the student rioting that was going on in 1960’s France and Italy. Judging from the Barbie website of the present, the fashion we are reflecting is a world where style are classed as ‘Funky & Fab’, ‘Sporty & Stylin’, ‘Preppy & Pretty’ and last but not least ‘Sweet and Sparkly’. Oh how we have regressed…..
Barbie Babysits 1963 // Roman Holiday Barbie 1959
Solo in the Spotlight Barbie 1960 // Sorbonne Barbie 1967
Gay Parisienne Barbie 1959 // London Tour Barbie 1966 & Poodle Parade Babie 1965 (the one that started off Ietje’s collection)